There have been a number of interesting articles in the news lately about food and health. Here’s a compilation of some of the ones we have seen.
Scientists have discovered a way to “turn on” brown fat to burn energy more quickly, potentially resulting in another approach to combatting obesity. Wait a minute—isn’t fat supposed to be whitish? Most of the fat in an adult human is whitish, but there are also small deposits in the upper chest and neck. Brown fat, which is associated with skeletal muscle, is brown because it is rich in iron-containing mitochondria, which provide its brown color. It is particularly important to newborns (who have about 5% brown fat) and hibernating mammals. The mitochondira, which are the cells’ powerhouses, burn energy at a higher rate than white fat, and are essential to protect animals from hypothermia. A research team found that brown fat could be activated by a hormone called irisin that is normally produced by muscles during exercise. Other hormones have also been identified as brown-fat stimulators. Eventually, these studies may lead to a practical way to stoke our internal fires to burn away unwanted pounds. For more information, see Science News.
Dr. Mark Hyman, best-selling author and advocate of functional medicine, has written extensively about how food sensitivities can make you gain weight. His three-week anti-allergy plan involves removing all dairy the first week, take probiotics the second week to repair the digestive tract, then add dairy products back in one at a time the third week. If bloating, fatigue, or fluid retention occur you may have found the culprit. For more detail, see dr.hyman.com
Forbes.com reports that scientists have discovered a way to turn on the enzyme that burns fat, lipase. It turns out that enzymes only work a set number of hours during the day. Researchers were able to make lipase work three times harder, upping fat digestion activity from 15% to 45% of the time. This has the potential to be lifesaving for people whose metabolism makes it difficult to lose weight with diet and exercise. Also, it turns out that all enzymes can be manipulated in this manner, with enormous implications for enzyme-based diseases. To read the Forbes story, see forbes.com
Cocoa powder may sharpen the aging brain, according to a study published in Hypertension. (Full disclosure: the study was sponsored by Mars, Inc., one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world.) The study included 90 elderly people who had mild cognitive impairment. They drank a cocoa drink for eight weeks that had high, medium, or low levels of flavenols, a type of antioxidant. Those who drank high or medium levels of flavenols performed better on tests of cognition than did those who received low levels. However, the improvements were measurable but mild, and many scientists think that exercise yields much greater benefits than flavenols. For the whole story, see webmd.com
HuffPost asked its experts in medicine and nutrition to come up with a list of the 50 healthiest foods. The top 10 are:
- Blackberries and raspberries
- Olive oil
To find out the rest of the foods deemed healthiest and why these foods are so good for you, see huffingtonpost.com
I never knew about brown fat until now, Kathy and thank you for the sharing the information about Dr Hyman. This definitely will help shed light on my frequent insta-bloating experiences after eating. Who know it could be food allergies?
Thanks, Esmee! The brown fat angle would be great–when they figure out how to switch it on in humans. A recent study involved dressing young men in chiller suits to lower their body temperatures, because that seems to be a key in activating brown fat. It sorta/kinda worked, but not to the same degree in everyone. And the fashion implications…!